California Doctors at Odds Over Plans To Expand Health Coverage
The California Medical Association and other groups that represent physicians are having difficulty presenting a united front on health care reform in California as members are divided over provisions of the array of reform proposals under consideration this year, the Los Angeles Times reports.
CMA, which represents about half of the state's physicians, opposes a provision in Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's (R) health care reform proposal that would require a 2% contribution from physicians' net income to the state in exchange for higher Medi-Cal reimbursements. Medi-Cal is California's Medicaid program.
Physicians opposing the mandatory contribution say it would affect their entire office revenue, or at least 4% of their take-home pay.
CMA also opposes Sen. Sheila Kuehl's (D-Los Angeles) measure (SB 840) to create a single-payer, state-run health care system, saying that the bill could lead to low reimbursement rates.
The health care reform debate has divided physicians with profitable practices and those who treat low-income residents; physicians in fee-for-service practices and managed care physicians; and physicians who are content with the current system and those who want to overhaul the system.
The California Association of Physician Groups has not taken a position on the governor's proposal. The physician group represents 150 managed-care entities that employ or contract physicians.
Don Crane, president of CAPG, said the group "applauds and believes in the concept of shared responsibility" -- a major theme of Schwarzenegger's proposal.
Joe Dunn, president of CMA, said, "We will be very aggressive, far more aggressive than we ever have been, if the health care discussions start to go in a direction that will further erode the relationship between the physicians and their patients."
CMA is lobbying Democratic lawmakers to increase Medi-Cal reimbursements without requiring contributions from physicians.
Medi-Cal reimbursements to physicians in California are among the lowest in the nation. Forty percent of physicians over the past year in California did not participate in the program because of inadequate rates, according to the Times (Rau, Los Angeles Times, 5/14).
"A compromise" to overhauling California's health care system "is within reach," a Sacramento Bee editorial states. "What happens in the next few weeks could determine whether state leaders seize or squander this opportunity," according to the editorial.
"An open process for deciding on" a health care reform proposal "should now be Task No. 1 at the Capitol," the editorial concludes (Sacramento Bee, 5/13).